Dr. Deborah Ann (Phillips) Watkins was the second child born to Annie M. Rice and L.E. Phillips on July 4, 1951 in Dallas, Texas. Deborah attended Arlington Park Elementary School and Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior High before graduating from Franklin D. Roosevelt High School in 1969. During high school, she was active in the choir and served as a lieutenant of the Mustang Prancers Drill Team.
On her first day of college at North Texas State University, she met Theodore “Teddy” Thomas Watkins – her future husband. Deborah and Teddy later married on December 22, 1972, and the union produced two sons – Ryan Thomas Watkins and Kurt Thomas Watkins. Deborah earned her Bachelor of Business Administration in 1974 and later received her Master in Public Administration in 1977.
While a newlywed and pursuing her education, she embarked on a 37-year career at the City of Dallas. Deborah’s first full-time assignment for the City of Dallas was a Steno Secretary, before she climbed the ranks at City Hall as a Budget Analyst, Assistant to the City Secretary, Division Manager for Court & Detention Services and Assistant City Secretary.
During her career, she also balanced being Teddy’s go-to advisor when he was the president of the Dallas Chapter of the NAACP and served as the president of the Dallas Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc.
In 2006, Deborah was appointed City Secretary and worked in that role until her retirement in 2011. Following her retirement, she continued to serve the City as Vice Chair of the City of Dallas Ethics Advisory Commission.
Deborah touched and impacted many people through her service, diligence, patience, kindness, and love for the City and the people of Dallas, which made her a legend and mentor. In her retirement, she continued to learn and earned a Ph.D. in Education from Texas A&M at Commerce.
Deborah accepted Christ at an early age and was baptized at Arlington Park Baptist Church. In the past decade, she became an active member at Greater Golden Gate Baptist Church where she served as trustee.
Deborah leaves behind an incredible legacy that will continue to live in the people she met.
Those left to cherish her memories include her two sons, Ryan Thomas Watkins and Kurt Thomas Watkins; one grandson, Tyler Thomas Watkins; two sisters, Sharon Phillips-Watson and Lynn P. Nash (Paul); three brothers, Leonard Phillips, Mark Phillips (Patricia) and Larry Phillips; brother-in-law, Richard Watkins (Paula Joyce); three sisters-in-law, Marijo Vaughn (Walter), Pamela Meachem (Robert) and Dr. Paula Morgan (Harold); and a host of nephews, nieces, cousins and friends.